Letter: St Helena lifeline

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The breakdown of RMS St Helena emphasises the vulnerability of an island dependent on just one means of supply ("Panic as St Helena's boat doesn't come in", 12 November).

A few years ago I made a feasibility study into providing St Helena with an airfield and showed that a low-cost airport was perfectly practical. The Overseas Development Administration at the time showed little interest, though the project was supported by a small group in the House of Lords and elsewhere.

Modern large twin-jets and smaller four-engined planes like the BA 146 have superb airfield performance and the Prosperous Plain area of the island has excellent weather and few engineering problems.

In medical emergencies, for instance, the current arrangement is unsatisfactory. An airfield with a weekly service to termini on the African mainland or Ascension Island would improve life for the islanders considerably. To rely on an intermittent service with a now ageing ship is ridiculous.

DAVID CHARLESWORTH

King's Lynn, Norfolk

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